Following Pence’s counter-protest, the NFL released a statement that ripped his stance to shreds.
Since the 2016 NFL preseason, Colin Kaepernick and countless other athletes have been kneeling during the National Anthem. The silent protest is in response to the ongoing racial violence in America, specifically police brutality.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said in a statement. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick, although not currently signed, has not shown any sign of backing down. He has donated thousands to improve the lives of people of color in their communities while continuing to raise awareness for racial injustice.
His protest has inspired other athletes, professional and otherwise, to kneel in solidarity with people of color. Megan Rapinoe of the NWSL took a knee during the anthem, expressing that that, as a gay American, she understands “what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,” and noted “it’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this.”
Using his large viewing platform to amplify his cause, the former 49er has pledged his allegiance not to the flag, but to a cause.
“This stand wasn’t for me. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change.” Kaepernick said, explaining his protest, “So I’m in the position where I can do that and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.”
Kaepernick’s goal was to start much-needed conversations in order to raise awareness and educate people about the injustices people of color are experiencing in the communities, and with the Trump administration’s backlash to the increasingly popular protests, he has achieved exactly that.
“If we have these real conversations that are uncomfortable for a lot of people. If we have these conversations, there’s a better understanding of where both sides are coming from.”
What’s Happening Now:
This past Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence walked out of the Colts game after athletes knelt during the anthem in week 5 of the season, unironically protesting the protestors. Despite multiple statements clarifying that the peaceful protesting has nothing to do with our soldiers or flag, but rather racial injustice, Pence tweeted that he “will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”
Following Pence’s counter-protest, The NFL Players Association published a statement in defending players’ constitutional rights to “peacefully raise awareness.”
“Our men and their families are also conscientious Americans who continue to be forces for good through our communities and some have decided to use their platform to peacefully raise awareness to issues that deserve attention,” the statement read.
“It is a source of enormous pride that some of the best conversations about these issues have taken place in our locker rooms in a respectful, civil and thoughtful way that should serve as a model for how all of us can communicate with each other.
“We should not stifle these discussions and cannot allow our rights to become subservient to the very opinions our Constitution protects. That is what makes us the land of the free and home of the brave.”
Trump later revealed on Twitter that he had asked Pence leave the game if any players participated in protest during the anthem. It was already nearly certain that some 49ers would kneel, so it almost seemed as if the walkout was staged- a political stunt.
Safety to the 49ers Eric Reid put Pence on blast, saying “This is what systemic oppression looks like. A man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple of things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts,”
With the movement only gaining momentous support, more backlash is sure to come.
H/T: The Hill